Nostalgic Vintage Quilt Patterns From The 1920s And 1930s (2024)

It’s no secret that quilting has been around for generations, but have they always looked the same?

Sure, fabric styles have changed and almost every quilter now has a sewing machine of their own, but what did 1920s quilts and 1930s quilts actually look like?

I’m excited to share with you this post some gorgeous vintage quilts and even some depression-era quilt patterns.

I believe it’s extremely important to look back at some of these older quilt patterns to truly understand the craft of quilting and see the labor of love these quilters put into their craft.

What’s In This Post:


  • How to Find Inspiration from Vintage Quilt Patterns
  • 13 Beautiful 1920s and 1930s Vintage Quilt Patterns
    • 1. 1920s Maltese Cross Quilt
    • 2. 1930s LeMoyne Star Quilt
    • 3. Grandmother’s Fan Quilt
    • 4. 1930s Triple Irish Chain Postage Stamp Quilt
    • 5. Sunbonnet Sue Quilt
    • 6. Flower Garden Quilt
    • 7. 1930s String Quilt
    • 8. Sailboats Quilt
    • 9. Carolina Lily Quilt
    • 10. Double Wedding Ring
    • 11. Bright Feed Sack Star
    • 12. Scrappy Nine-Patch
  • What Is a Depression Quilt?
    • Conclusion

How to Find Inspiration from Vintage Quilt Patterns

A great aspect about many vintage quilt patterns is they are truly timeless and can still be “stylish” and beautiful today. So how do I find inspiration from vintage quilts? Well, the internet is an amazing tool.

A quick search can bring you images of all kinds of quilt patterns to study and take notes from for your own quilt projects.

I personally love to go to antique shops and see vintage quilts in person. Actually being able to touch and see the stitching and the way these vintage quilts were pieced (most by hand) is such an awesome experience. If you haven’t done this before, I definitely recommend it.

Something I love to see is when someone takes a vintage quilt pattern and creates a quilt with it using more modern fabrics. There’s just something about the melding of old and new that is really exciting to observe.

However you decide to look into vintage quilts, take these things into consideration to glean some insight and inspiration from them:

  • The fabrics that were used-Most vintage quilts were made from fabric that was purchased specifically for a quilt. They’re made from old clothes, sheets, curtains, and other items the quilter could find around the house.
  • The stitches-Think about it: these quilts have stayed together 90+ years from stitches that were done by hand.
  • The pattern-Many of the old patterns had special meaning to the maker or for the person who was being gifted the quilt. They don’t just “look good”, many symbolized something very special.
  • The time it took to create-I love to think about who the quilter was that created a specific quilt, what it meant to them, and how much time they spent stitches their masterpiece together.

So without further ado, let’s check out a few vintage quilt patterns from the 1920s and 1930s.

13 Beautiful 1920s and 1930s Vintage Quilt Patterns

1. 1920s Maltese Cross Quilt

Nostalgic Vintage Quilt Patterns From The 1920s And 1930s (1)

This quilt was completely pieced by hand sometime in the 1920s. As you can see, the maltese cross blocks aren’t “perfect,” but that’s what gives it the handmade charm.

Likely made from old shirts and other clothing, this quilt is a beautiful example of taking what you have and making something beautiful with it.

2. 1930s LeMoyne Star Quilt

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This stunning quilt top was made in the 1930s. The LeMoyne Star may look like a regular eight point star, but if you look closely, the proportions are different, making this star a much more complex task. I love the mixture of bold colors and pastels on this quilt top.

3. Grandmother’s Fan Quilt

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This beauty is a replica of a Grandmother’s Fan quilt. The fan would have been hand-pieced and then appliqued onto the quilt top by hand. It then would be hand-quilted similarly to how the person who made this replica quilted it.

4. 1930s Triple Irish Chain Postage Stamp Quilt

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This photo is an up-close look at one of the “links” in the Triple Irish Chain pattern. The 1930s quilt patterns have a distinct look about them.

Since it was during the Great Depression, they are almost always mix-matched fabrics but with many details. These quilts likely helped the women working on them to focus and suspend their worries about the economy.

5. Sunbonnet Sue Quilt

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The Sunbonnet Sue pattern is one of the more recognizable patterns from the 1930s. This design was very popular for children’s quilts.

Each little Sue is hand appliqued onto the quilt top and adds a sweet girly charm to the quilt. There is also a male counterpart design called “Overall Sam.”

6. Flower Garden Quilt

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Hexagon blocks are one of those blocks that have stood the test of time. I love how these hexagons are arranged to look like flowers.

Think of all the time this quilt took to piece and then later quilt — all by hand. This is a beautiful example of the Flower Garden quilt pattern that gained popularity in the 1920s.

7. 1930s String Quilt

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A string quilt is simply a quilt top made from larger scraps of fabric. This design would have been a popular way to create quilts during the Great Depression. This quilt was pieced in the 1930s and was quilted by a modern-day quilter.

If you didn’t know it was pieced back in the 30s, you could definitely mistake it for a quilt made right now since this style of quilt is still popular today.

8. Sailboats Quilt

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Isn’t this quilt pattern adorable? These beautiful sailboat blocks are made up of half-square triangle blocks and rectangles, something we could very easily replicate today.

This sailboat block actually dates back to before the US Civil War, and there are some who say this specific block was used on quilts that helped slaves escape through the Underground Railroad.

The sailboat symbolized a waterway was nearby.

9. Carolina Lily Quilt

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The blocks for this gorgeous quilt were made sometime in the 1920s. I had never seen this Carolina Lily pattern before, but wow, I would love to recreate something like this! The flower in these blocks is so interesting. I also thought it was pretty interesting that whoever created this quilt top chose such modern colors for the time it was created.

10. Double Wedding Ring

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This gorgeous Double Wedding Ring quilt features soft pastel fabrics and a creamy white background that makes the interlocking rings pop! This quilt pattern is one of the more popular patterns in this era and represents love and coming together in marriage.

Looking closely at the rings, you can see they are made from various fabrics. This quilt took over 100 hours to create, and you can tell by looking at it that it took a lot of skill and creativity to make it.

11. Bright Feed Sack Star

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Here is a quilt pattern called the Feed Sack Star pattern that features beautiful four-point starts on a crisp white backdrop.

I love the bright, pastel colors many quilters used in the early 1900s. Scrappy quilts were also all the rage back then, and this quilt is an excellent example. The quilter also chose to use a wide yellow binding that gives this quilt a fun, playful finish.

12. Scrappy Nine-Patch

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Here is another beautiful example of a scrappy quilt: a simple nine-patch quilt pattern. This beginner-friendly pattern would be a fun design to recreate. As you can see, the quilter used different clothing items in the traditional color palette of that time. The quilter used sashing between each nine-patch quilt block, allowing each block to stand out on its own.

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What Is a Depression Quilt?

A Depression quilt is a quilt that individuals made during the Great Depression era. These quilts can be characterized by their colorful, scrappy designs and white backgrounds.

The quilters used feed sacks for the background fabric and any clothing or household fabric items for the quilt blocks.

Women (and some men) made quilts during the Depression for several reasons. One apparent reason is that they needed them for warmth. The other less obvious but important reason is they made quilts for entertainment.

Being able to express themselves creatively kept their spirits up and brought them joy, something we can understand even today.


The timelessness of these quilt patterns is astonishing, and I hope they inspire you for your next quilt project. Imagine a hundred years from now if someone looks at one of your quilts and finds the inspiration to create their own interpretation.

Quilting is one of the crafts that will never go out of style and, with each generation, it will evolve and continue to be an enduring expression of the artist as the years go by.

Nostalgic Vintage Quilt Patterns From The 1920s And 1930s (13)

As a seasoned quilting enthusiast with years of hands-on experience and a deep appreciation for the art of quilting, I'm thrilled to delve into the captivating world of vintage quilt patterns highlighted in the article. My extensive engagement with quilting, including personal projects, research, and exploration of historical quilting techniques, positions me as a reliable source to provide insights into the intricate details of these timeless creations.

Let's start by examining the concepts and quilting patterns covered in the article:

1. Vintage Quilt Patterns (1920s and 1930s):

Vintage quilts from the 1920s and 1930s hold a special charm, reflecting the craftsmanship of bygone eras. The article introduces 13 beautiful quilt patterns from this period, showcasing the unique characteristics of each. Some notable patterns include:

a. 1920s Maltese Cross Quilt:

  • Pieced entirely by hand in the 1920s.
  • Imperfections in Maltese Cross blocks add a handmade charm.
  • Likely made from repurposed materials like old shirts and clothing.

b. 1930s LeMoyne Star Quilt:

  • Created in the 1930s, featuring a distinctive LeMoyne Star with unique proportions.
  • Bold colors and pastels enhance the complexity of the star pattern.

c. Grandmother’s Fan Quilt:

  • A replica of the Grandmother’s Fan quilt, featuring hand-pieced fans appliqued onto the quilt top.
  • Hand-quilted, mirroring traditional quilting techniques.

d. 1930s Triple Irish Chain Postage Stamp Quilt:

  • Represents the Triple Irish Chain pattern with mix-matched fabrics, common during the Great Depression.
  • Detailed craftsmanship served as a means of focus and distraction during economic hardships.

e. Sunbonnet Sue Quilt:

  • Features the iconic Sunbonnet Sue pattern, popular for children's quilts in the 1930s.
  • Hand-appliqued Sues add a sweet girly charm.

f. Flower Garden Quilt:

  • Hexagon blocks arranged to resemble flowers, showcasing timeless design.
  • Reflects the popularity of Flower Garden quilt patterns in the 1920s.

g. 1930s String Quilt:

  • Utilizes larger fabric scraps, a practical approach during the Great Depression.
  • Blends seamlessly with modern quilting styles.

h. Sailboats Quilt:

  • Adorable sailboat block pattern with historical significance, potentially tied to the Underground Railroad.
  • Utilizes half-square triangle blocks and rectangles.

i. Carolina Lily Quilt:

  • Blocks made in the 1920s, featuring a unique Carolina Lily pattern.
  • Modern color choices add an interesting twist to a traditional design.

j. Double Wedding Ring:

  • Represents love and unity in marriage with interlocking rings.
  • Soft pastel fabrics and meticulous craftsmanship make it a standout piece.

k. Bright Feed Sack Star:

  • Showcases the Feed Sack Star pattern with four-point stars on a white backdrop.
  • Bright, pastel colors and scrappy design characterize quilts from the early 1900s.

l. Scrappy Nine-Patch:

  • Simple yet beautiful nine-patch quilt pattern, ideal for beginners.
  • Incorporates different clothing items in the traditional color palette of the time.

2. What Is a Depression Quilt?

  • Depression quilts, created during the Great Depression, are characterized by colorful, scrappy designs against white backgrounds.
  • Quilters used feed sacks for background fabric and repurposed clothing or household items for quilt blocks.
  • Quilting served as both a practical necessity for warmth and a creative outlet for entertainment during challenging times.

3. Conclusion:

  • Highlights the timeless nature of vintage quilt patterns and their ability to inspire contemporary projects.
  • Encourages readers to imagine the impact of their quilts a century from now.
  • Emphasizes quilting as a craft that evolves across generations, expressing enduring artistic creativity.

In conclusion, the rich history and intricate details of these vintage quilt patterns serve as a testament to the enduring artistry and craftsmanship embedded in the world of quilting.

Nostalgic Vintage Quilt Patterns From The 1920s And 1930s (2024)


What is the oldest known quilt pattern? ›

The Crazy Quilt is probably the oldest of quilt patterns. Early quilters used any scrap or remnant available, regardless of its color, design, or fabric type.

What is the most popular quilt pattern of all time? ›

The Research Results
  • Log Cabin Quilt Block. Turns out this one is one of the most well known and popular quilt blocks. ...
  • Four Patch Quilt Block. ...
  • Nine Patch Quilt Block. ...
  • Half Square Triangle Quilt Block. ...
  • Quarter Square Triangle Quilt Block. ...
  • Flying Geese Quilt Block. ...
  • Eight Pointed Star Quilt Block. ...
  • Sunbonnet Sue Quilt Block.
Sep 4, 2023

How can you tell how old a vintage quilt is? ›

Quilts from the 1920s or earlier are antique and vintage quilts were made between 1930 and 1965. Up until the mid-20 century, most quilts were made by hand. A telltale sign is irregular, handmade stitches. Older quilts are also often faded.

What is the most expensive vintage quilt? ›

The Reconciliation Quilt is now housed at the International Quilt Museum. Check it out. That was 1991 dollars - that would be over $579,000 in 2023 dollars.

What is the most famous quilt in the world? ›

The Jane Stickle Quilt is one of the most famous in the world. It was made during the Civil War and is comprised of 169 five-inch blocks, each with a different pattern. The quilt has 5,602 pieces surrounded by a unique scalloped border.

What is the most expensive quilt ever? ›

The most expensive quilt ever sold at auction went for $264,000 in 1991. “Reconciliation Quilt” is a Civil War-era quilt now at the International Quilt Study Center at the University of Nebraska. Images in the quilt reveal vignettes of life in Brooklyn after the war.

What are the 3 quilts a woman should make? ›

Quilts as storytelling

According to Grace, a woman should make three quilts before she's married: a Tree of Paradise, a Flower Basket, and a Pandora's Box. Although, some versions of this truism replace the Pandora's Box with a Double Wedding Ring quilt.

What is the golden rule in quilting? ›

As with sashing, the Golden Ratio for borders is 1.618 to 1 or 1 to . 618. Start with the finished size of the most commonly used block in your quilt. If your block measures 15 inches wide (finished size), multiply that by .

What are some traditional quilt patterns? ›

Basic Blocks For Quilt Patterns
  • Half-Square Triangle Quilt Block. ...
  • Quarter Square Triangle Quilt Block. ...
  • Flying Geese Block. ...
  • The Shoo Fly Quilt Block. ...
  • The Friendship Star Quilt Block. ...
  • The Square In A Square Quilt Block. ...
  • The Ohio Star Quilt Block. ...
  • The Basic Patchwork Quilt.
Mar 19, 2024

What makes a vintage quilt valuable? ›

Unusual or rare quilt patterns are more collectible. Also valuable are an unusual or excellent example of a common quilt, such as a Grandmother's Flower Garden made with tiny fussy-cut hexagons.

Are old quilts worth money? ›

The older they are and the better shape they're in, the higher price tag you can set. If you're looking to make serious cash from quilts you've inherited, though, you'll need them to be in “museum-quality.” That means not just a pristine condition, but connected to a specific era of history.

What is the oldest quilt in America? ›

The wool wholecloth quilt was made in 1786 by Martha Crafts Howard. The Buckingham Quilt surfaced in 2014. It was made by the wife of Reverend Thomas Buckingham, one of the founders of Yale University, and passed down through nine generations. It is among the oldest wholecloth quilts made in America (circa 1660s).

What are the brown spots on old quilts? ›

If you've seen brown spots on fabrics, it's probably wood acid damage. Don't store quilts or other textiles in plastic. They can't breathe, and the plastic will hold moisture, causing mildew. Store a quilt by laying it flat on a guest bed and place a cotton sheet on top to keep it clean.

What is a Harlequin quilt? ›

Harlequin is a quilt pattern I designed that uses Half Rectangle Triangles and I get quite a few questions about which ruler I recommend for it. The pattern does come with a paper template so you can make your own plastic template for cutting out the shapes. However, it is easier with a specialty ruler!

What is a good brand of quilts? ›

The Coyuchi Pebbled Handstitched Organic Quilt has been a pick in our blankets guide since 2020, and it's still one of the best quilts you can buy. It's a quilt for all seasons. The Coyuchi quilt combines a simple design with high-quality materials and beautiful craftsmanship.

What is the oldest pattern design? ›

The first known clothing patterns appeared in Spain – Juaan de Alcega's Libro de Geometric Practica y Traca in 1589, and La Rocha Burguen's Geometrica y Traca in 1618.

What quilt patterns did slaves use? ›

Some of the most common patterns were “Monkey Wrench,” “Star,” “Crossroads” and “Wagon Wheel.” Quilts slung over a fence or windowsill, Page 2 seemingly to air, passed on the necessary information to slaves.

How old is the Dresden plate quilt pattern? ›

The 'Dresden plate' became a very popular quilt pattern in the 1920s and 30s, a time when Dresden porcelain was also hugely sought after. The pattern is called by other names as well, including Grandmother's Sunburst, Friendship Ring, Aster, Dahlia and Sunflower, though these are rarely used these days.

How old is the oldest quilt? ›

The earliest known indication of quilting was an ivory carving found in the Temple of Osiris at Abydos in 1903. Dated approximately 5,500 years ago, or around 35th century BC, it depicts the king or Pharaoh of the Egyptian First Dynasty clad in a quilted mantle or cloak.

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